Wisniak (Polish Cherry Cordial Liqueur) Recipe

Polish cherry nalewka recipe

The Spruce / Katarina Zunic

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 21 servings
Yield: 1 quart
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
91 Calories
0g Fat
11g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 21
Amount per serving
Calories 91
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 11g 4%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 1mg 5%
Calcium 2mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 19mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

A Polish nalewka is an aged cordial. The most common types are made with fruit and either vodka or rectified spirits. This recipe for cherry nalewka or wiśniak is traditionally made with Morello cherries, a sour type of cherry. If Morello cherries aren't available in your area, you can certainly use sour pie cherries. No matter which type of sour cherries you use, snap them up during cherry season in your area. While you might be able to buy fresh cherries year-round, fully ripened local cherries have the most flavor and are the best cherries for this recipe. 

Starting the cordial in the summer during cherry season is not too early because the cordial needs to steep for at least three months. The longer the cherries sit in alcohol, the more flavorful the cordial will be. An additional month of steeping does not harm, on the contrary. 

Filled into decorative glass bottles, nalewka makes an excellent edible gift for Christmas, as a hostess gift, etc. You don’t need to have all the bottles for gifts lined up right away. Start the amount of nalewka you think you will need for gifts, then fill it into smaller gift bottles as needed.

In Poland and other eastern European countries, homemade cordial is usually made with rectified spirit, also called neutral spirit, neutral alcohol, or rectified alcohol. It is a highly concentrated ethanol with a minimum ABV of 95 percent (190 proof). Its neutral flavor, odor, and color make it especially suitable for beverages that extract flavors from fruits, nuts, and spices. In the United States, the equivalent to rectified spirit is the Everclear brand, 190 proof. If you cannot find it, you can also use a high-proof vodka. 

Nalewka is best stored in a dark place; it keeps indefinitely. If exposed to light its color will fade. This does not affect its taste but it is less attractive, especially for gifting.



  • 1/2 pound sour cherries, washed, stemmed, and pitted

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 2 cups rectified spirits, or premium vodka

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Polish cherry nalewka
    The Spruce / Katarina Zunic
  2. Place cherries in a 1-quart (1-liter) jar. Pour sugar over cherries (do not stir or shake).

    Place cherries in jar
    The Spruce / Katarina Zunic
  3. Slowly pour the spirits or vodka over the cherries until the jar is full (leave a slight gap at the top). Make sure cherries are covered but do not stir or shake.

    Pour in spirits
    The Spruce / Katarina Zunic
  4. Tightly close the jar and place in a pantry or closet for three months at room temperature.

    Close jar
    The Spruce / Katarina Zunic
  5. After three months, strain the ​nalewka and rebottle. It may be drunk immediately or aged further.

    The Spruce / Katarina Zunic
  6. Serve and enjoy.

    The Spruce / Katarina Zunic


  • Don't throw away the fruit. It is delicious on ice cream, pound cake, or other desserts.​